That’s a question Iowa Republicans heading to the Feb. 1 first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses will have to decide, said Paul, who took aim at GOP rival Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and his plans to boost spending for defense and refundable tax credits that would add to the national debt.
“The real debate we have is over who is a fiscal conservative,” Rand told a gathering at the Pizza Ranch in Altoona. “Can you be a fiscal conservative if you’re liberal with military spending? People have not thought about it this way, and that’s why I’m challenging people to rethink their presuppositions and rethink what makes America strong and what makes America great.”
Military spending must be done in the context of a budget strategy to better prioritize and “hold the line” on necessary expenditures while squeezing down the size of government along with tax and regulatory burdens on U.S. taxpayers, he said.
“People say, ‘What’s the biggest threat to our national security?’ I think it’s our debt,” Paul told the group. “I’m a Reagan conservative. I believe in peace through strength. I believe in a strong military, but I don’t believe in spending so much that we bankrupt the country.”
Paul said he recently filibustered against a bipartisan federal budget compromise because it did not address the reform needed to chart a new fiscal direction with strict spending caps for a nation approaching $20 trillion in debt.
“The dirty little secret of Washington and why our country is going bankrupt — the right wants more money for the military and in an unlimited fashion, and the left wants more money for welfare. It’s an unholy alliance.”
At Thursday’s event, Paul continued an exchange he had with Rubio during Tuesday’s GOP debate. Rubio’s proposals, Paul said, could add $2 trillion to the national debt by boosting spending for the military and refundable tax credits “that have a 25 percent fraud rate.” He also said the inspector general indicated a sizable share of credits under the existing program “are going to illegal aliens.”
The Paul-Rubio dispute is among a number of niche battles among GOP candidates that have developed recently. Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sparred over immigration policy Thursday; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took shots Wednesday in Iowa at New York businessman Donald Trump over sending refugees back to Syria; and Trump has targeted competing front-runner and political newcomer Ben Carson on several fronts.
Steve Grubbs, a former state legislator and Iowa GOP chairman who is a top Paul adviser, likened the Republican race to a professional wrestling “battle royale” where all the combatants enter the ring and compete until one remains.
“I think the last 80 days will be like a battle royale with candidates trying to throw each other out of the ring,” Grubbs said after Thursday’s event.
Paul told the Pizza Ranch crowd he is eyeing the top prize when the first tally in the 2016 GOP nominating process is taken in Iowa.
“Our goal is to win,” he said, “not to place, not to show, but to win.”
By Rod Boshart, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(c)2015 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Visit The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) at thegazette.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.